preschooler buying guide: messy play

The holidays are quickly approaching! As a mom with a background in product design, toys are on my mind. Over the next few weeks I'll be highlighting some of my top shopping picks for preschoolers.

1. Clay Set Land of Nod $20

2. Lunch Box Cookbook Williams-Sonoma $19

3. Easel Accessory Kit Pottery Barn Kids. $39

4. Urban Whales Apron Set Carre. $16

5. Mala Easel Ikea. $15

6. Natural Sprinkles Williams-Sonoma $10

7. ABC Cookie Cutter Set Williams-Sonoma $13

8. Art Caddy Land of Nod $8

9. Chubby Brushes Dick Blick set of 10, $7

When shopping for toys the themed toys with the biggest graphics and packaging are appealing. But I'm in the camp "less is more." Messy play encourages a child's imagination and fine-motor skill. It is key to sensory integration and is a great way to spend the afternoon, especially in winter months. Do you have any other messy play suggestions?